NH Reopens Partially, Closed Again31 December 2010
The Daily Excelsior
Jammu: Around 39 people, who got struck in the Jawahar Tunnel area yesterday, were evacuated this morning while as Jammu-Srinagar National Highway was reopened partially for about two hours but had to be closed for the normal vehicular traffic because of extreme slippery conditions. An official spokesman said that 39 people, who had to remain stranded in the tunnel area towards Banihal side even after being moved out of the tunnel along with large number of passengers last evening, were evacuated safely to Lower Munda and subsequently to their respective destinations this morning. These people spent night in the camp of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), which is responsible for the security of the Jawahar Tunnel, the highest point on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, he said, adding the district administration Anantnag had made arrangements for their hassle free stay in the tunnel area with the assistance of Army and CRPF. 'With the shifting of these persons, no passenger is stranded in the Jawahar Tunnel area', he said, adding 'since yesterday evening, no fresh passenger vehicle was allowed from either side of the Jawahar Tunnel keeping in view the extreme slippery conditions because of snow and frost'. Though Border Roads Organization (BRO) continued snow clearance operation during the day today keeping in view clear sky yet Jammu-Srinagar National Highway could not be reopened for normal vehicular traffic, they said. However, BRO allowed clearance of those Light Motor Vehicles, which were stranded between Pir Baba near Banihal and Jawahar Tunnel stretch of the highway. 'We cleared some Light Motor Vehicles but with utmost precaution', Inspector General of Police (IGP) Traffic, Hemant Lohia, said when contacted, adding 'keeping in view the extreme slippery conditions the movement of even LMVs was stopped after some time as we donít want to put to risk the lives of passengers'. The intensity of slip on the highway between Banihal and Jawahar Tunnel could be gauged from the fact that light motor vehicles, which usually take 45 minutes to cover the distance, reached tunnel in one and half hour, Mr Lohia informed. To a question, he said, 'we will assess the situation tomorrow morning before taking any decision vis-ŗ-vis clearance of the stranded vehicles', adding 'there will be no fresh movement of even light motor vehicles from both the capital cities till the clearance of all the stranded ones'. Due to continuous closure of the highway, around 700 vehicles mostly trucks carrying essential commodities to Kashmir valley have been stranded at different locations mainly at Banihal, Ramban, Chanderkote and Udhampur, official sources said. Unlike Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, the vehicular movement on Batote-Doda-Kishtwar National Highway 1B was smooth. Meanwhile, severe cold wave continued to sweep the Jammu region with night temperature plummeting considerably. Due to rainfall and snow, the minimum temperature of Jammu on December 30 was recorded at 7.7 degree celsius as against 11.8 degree celsius of previous day. The IMD has given a forecast of rains- snow at isolated places in the State during the next 24 hours. Meanwhile, world famous tourist resorts of Gulmarg and Pahalgam were the coldest in the Kashmir valley with minus 5 degree celsius temperature. However, the maximum temperature improved this afternoon due to clear weather.